A month into 2022, there seems to be hope for a better year of travel. Countries around Europe are loosening their COVID restrictions as the biggest waves of the Omicron variant subside. Thailand is reopening for quarantine-free travel. Even Australia is planning to finally welcome back visitors this spring.
If you've been sitting on the travel sidelines or scaling back your plans, I hope this news has you dreaming about future adventures … but I also hope you're thinking about how to weave some points and miles into your game plan to do it for less. And as you get started, remember this: Not all credit card points and airline miles are created equally.
Some points programs are better than others, and that's where you should be focusing your attention as you look ahead to 2022. Case in point: Scan this list of the top points to earn in 2022, and you won't find a single airline mileage program or hotel loyalty system. Heading into 2022, flexibility is more important than ever – and that's what this list is all about.
Here are the best credit card points you can earn to fuel your 2022 adventures … and beyond.
Capital One Venture Miles
Capital One has made some huge improvements to their already valuable Venture Miles over the last year. That wasn't an accident: It all coincided with the launch of their brand new premium travel credit card, the Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card.
That card is out with a welcome bonus offer of 75,000 miles after spending $4,000 in the first three months of card membership. And it might just be the single best travel rewards credit card we've seen. While it has an annual fee of $395, frequent (and even infrequent) travelers can easily offset that, thanks to just two of the many benefits the card offers.
But aside from all the great benefits provided by the Capital One Venture X Card and other Capital One cards, the reason to prioritize earning Venture Miles comes down to their flexibility and value. When it comes to redeeming Venture Miles, you'll have three options.
First, there's the Capital One Purchase Eraser feature: by far the easiest way to use your Venture Miles – or any points and miles, for that matter. Just Capital One Venture X, Venture, or even a VentureOne credit card to make a travel purchase, then go back and use your miles to erase the expense. Through Purchase Eraser, every Venture Mile is worth 1 cent – meaning you can cover a $500 flight, hotel, or rental car using 50,000 miles.
Next, there is a growing list of great transfer partners like Emirates, Singapore Airlines, Turkish Airlines, Air Canada Aeroplan, and more, which allow you to really maximize their value – especially if you want to book a business class or first-class seat. Take a look at the full list of Capital One Transfer partners below.
|Air Canada Aeroplan||Airline||1:1||Instant|
|Cathay Pacific AsiaMiles||Airline||1:1||Up to five business days|
|Etihad||Airline||1:1||Up to 1 day|
|EVA Air||Airline||2:1.5||Up to five business days|
|Qantas||Airline||1:1||Up to 1 day|
|TAP Air Portugal||Airline||1:1||Same day|
|Turkish Airlines||Airline||1:1||Same day|
|Virgin Red||Other||1:1||Same day|
|Accor||Hotel||2:1||Up to two business days|
|Choice Hotels||Hotel||1:1||Same day|
Finally, you can book travel through the Capital One Travel portal using your Venture Miles. This method is especially useful for Venture X cardholders as you'll have a $300 annual travel credit to burn that must be used in the portal each and every year you hold the card.
With these three methods of booking travel, you'll have a ton of flexibility and options for your Venture Miles. That flexibility adds value and it's a big part of the reason we think Venture Miles are some of the best credit card points to earn this year.
How to Earn Capital One Venture Miles
The Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card is the bank’s very first premium travel card. Think of it as a souped-up version of the ever-popular Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card that’s chock full of extra benefits: Access to Capital One Lounges and Priority Pass lounges, a $300 annual travel credit, a credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck, great travel and rental car insurance protection, and more. The annual fee clocks in at $395 a year, but the benefits can easily outweigh that. It's the reason why we think the Venture X annual fee shouldn't scare you off.
Here’s the best part: You can currently earn 75,000 Venture Miles after spending $4,000 in the first three months. Considering you earn at least 2x for every dollar you spend on the Venture X Card, you’ll earn a total of at least 83,000 Venture Miles.
Click Here to learn more about the Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card.
Meanwhile, the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card remains truly one of the best travel credit cards for beginners.
You earn 2x points on every purchase and even get a credit that covers the cost of Global Entry or TSA PreCheck – all for a card with a $95 annual fee.
But the true allure for beginners is its easy-to-use Purchase Eraser to redeem miles for travel. Just charge any travel expense – flights, hotels, Airbnbs, tours, excursions, and so on – to your Venture Card. Then go back to use points to wipe the cost from your credit card statement.
Or, transfer Capital One miles straight to one of their 19 airline or hotel partners to maximize your miles. Capital One currently offers a welcome bonus of 75,000 miles once you spend $4,000 on purchases within three months from account opening. This is equal to $750 in travel purchases or can be transferred for up to 75,000 miles with partner airlines or hotels.
Click Here to learn more about current offers for the Capital One Venture card.
The Venture Rewards card isn’t the only card that can transfer miles. You can also transfer miles from the no-annual-fee Capital One VentureOne Rewards card and the Capital One Spark Miles Select for business cards. The VentureOne card earns 1.25x miles per dollar spent on all purchases and the Spark Miles Select card earns 1.5x miles per dollar on all purchases.
The VentureOne card has no annual fee but offers lower miles-earning opportunities: 1.25X miles on every purchase, and a 20,000-mile welcome bonus.
Click Here to learn more about the no-annual-fee Capital One VentureOne card.
Chase Ultimate Rewards Points
No points and miles earning strategy is complete without a stable of Chase Ultimate Rewards points. In fact, we recommend starting with Chase credit cards. That's because they get harder to acquire later on thanks to something called the Chase 5/24 Rule.
Like Capital One Venture Miles, the value of Chase Ultimate Rewards points comes from their flexibility.
When it comes time to redeem Ultimate Rewards points, you'll have three options. First, you'll be able to book travel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards travel portal. When you go this route, you'll be able to book flights, hotels, rental cars, and more – and when you do, your points will be worth either 25% or 50% more, depending on which Chase Sapphire card you have.
If you hold the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, your points will be worth 1.25 cents each through the Chase travel portal. Hold the Chase Sapphire Reserve®? Your points will be worth 1.5 cents apiece. So for example, booking $750 in travel would require 60,000 points for Sapphire Preferred cardholders and only 50,000 points for Reserve cardholders.
Next, you'll have the option to use your points for a benefit referred to as Chase Pay Yourself Back.
Chase’s Pay Yourself Back allows cardholders to use their Chase Ultimate Rewards points towards other, nontraditional expenses in categories that occasionally change. Through March 31, 2022, you can use points to cover purchases at Airbnb, Away Luggage, and dining at restaurants (only for Sapphire Reserve cardholders).
Critically, your Chase points are worth the same using Pay Yourself Back as if you book flights or hotels through the Chase Ultimate Rewards travel portal: 1.25 cents each if you hold the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card and 1.5 cents each if you hold the Chase Sapphire Reserve.
Finally, you'll have the ability to send your Ultimate Rewards points to a list of Chase transfer partners. They have a bit of overlap on transfer partners with Capital One, but they also have a few unique options like United Airlines, Southwest Airlines, Hyatt hotels, and more. Just as with Capital One, this is an excellent way to maximize the value of your Chase points.
Take a look at the full list of Capital One Transfer partners below.
|Program||Type||Transfer Ratio||Transfer Time|
|Air Canada Aeroplan||Airline||1:1||Instant|
|Singapore Air||Airline||1:1||12-24 hours|
|World of Hyatt||Hotel||1:1||Instant|
|Marriott Rewards||Hotel||1:1||2 days|
Admittedly, utilizing the Chase transfer partners effectively will take a little bit more work, but it is the top way to get outsized value out of your Ultimate Rewards points.
How to Earn Chase Ultimate Rewards Points
The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is easily the best place to start.
You can earn 60,000 Ultimate Rewards points after spending $4,000 in the first three months. You’ll also earn 3x points for every $1 spent on dining, including eligible delivery services. You’ll earn 3x points per dollar spent on online grocery purchases, 3x points per dollar spent on select streaming services, and 2x points per dollar spent on travel purchases.
With just a $95 annual fee, it’s more than reasonable. And considering you’ll get at least $750 toward travel when booking through the Chase travel portal (or much more by using some of the transfer partners mentioned above), that’s a ton of value for a cheap travel credit card.
Click Here to get more information about the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card.
For the more seasoned traveler looking for premium perks, the Chase Sapphire Reserve® is still a great option. That’s because it comes with an outstanding set of benefits like an easy-to-use $300 annual travel credit, a free Priority Pass lounge membership, $100 toward Global Entry or TSA PreCheck enrollment, and much more. Those perks can easily outweigh the $550 annual fee.
You’ll earn 60,000 Ultimate Rewards points after spending $4,000 in the first three months. If you hold the Sapphire Reserve, every point gets you 1.5 cents when booking directly through Chase. You’ll also get 3x points on every travel and dining purchase.
Click Here to learn more about the Chase Sapphire Reserve.
Unfortunately, you can’t stack both bonuses. Chase restricts cardholders to just one Sapphire card at a time, and you can’t earn the bonuses within 48 months of each other. These (and most Chase cards) also fall under the dreaded Chase 5/24 rule, which means you won’t get approved if you’ve opened five or more credit cards from any bank within the last 24 months.
That said, there’s another card that is a perfect complement to the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card. Actually, there are two.
Enter the Chase Freedom Flex and Chase Freedom Unlimited cards. These two Chase credit cards have no annual fee and typically earn cashback. But pair one with the Chase Sapphire Preferred or Reserve cards, and it forms a powerful tandem that can help you earn even more Chase Ultimate Rewards points.
American Express Membership Rewards Points
Last – but certainly not least – on the list of the best credit card points to earn this year are American Express Membership Rewards points.
I might sound like a broken record, but again, the reason Membership Rewards points have a lot of value is due to the flexibility they have. You'll have two options for your points.
First, you can use them to book travel through Amex's travel portal – dubbed Amex Travel. Each Amex point will be worth 1 cent each, regardless of which American Express credit card you have. That means a $500 flight or hotel would cost 50,000 Membership Rewards points.
But the real value for Amex Membership Rewards points, in particular, comes from the list of Amex transfer partners. Need to earn some Delta SkyMiles? You can transfer Membership Rewards points into your SkyMiles account to book some of the amazing Delta SkyMiles flash sales we send to our Thrifty Traveler Premium members.
But there are also great opportunities to send points to 15+ airlines for amazing value as well as a few hotel programs. for an amazing value. Again, you will find some overlap from both Capital One and Chase – and that's not a bad thing. But you will also find some unique options like Delta Air Lines, All Nippon Airways (ANA), and more.
Check out the full list of Membership Rewards transfer partners below.
|Program||Type||Transfer Ratio||Transfer Time|
|Air Canada Aeroplan||Airline||1:1||Instant|
|Cathay Pacific||Airline||1:1||1-7 days|
How to Earn Amex Membership Rewards Points
It starts off with a 100,000-point welcome bonus on The Platinum Card® from American Express after spending $6,000 within six months – and that alone is tough to beat. But you can do better.
Make sure to check to see if you are eligible for the outstanding 150,000-point offer via CardMatch! Otherwise, you can get a 125,000-point bonus (plus earn a whopping 10x points per dollar spent on the first $25,000 spent at restaurants in six months) by applying for the Platinum Card through Resy!
Click Here to learn more about the Platinum Card from American Express.
And then there’s the American Express® Gold Card, one of the best all-around credit cards, period. It earns 4x points at U.S. supermarkets (up to $25,000 each year, then 1x) and restaurants. You'll earn a welcome offer bonus of 60,000 Amex points after spending $4,000 within six months.
But you may be able to get a 75,000-point welcome bonus via CardMatch!
Click Here to learn more about the American Express Gold Card.
With either card, you’ll have a hefty stash of points to put to use for some future travel that can easily offset their annual fees: $695 a year on the Amex Platinum (see rates & fees) and $250 for the Amex Gold Card (see rates & fees).
Focusing on these three points currencies will open up literally hundreds, if not thousands, of possible redemption options. It's the beauty of transferrable credit card points and why they should be at the forefront of your points and miles earning strategy this year.